Sustainable Design is the philosophy of designing buildings to comply with the principles of economic, social, and ecological sustainability. There is very little sustainable design in Fullerton, mostly due to the lack of vision by the city and its favored developers.
A Taste of Sunny Hills
Our 50th Anniversary Celebration will officially begin with “A Taste of Sunny Hills: A Taste of Talent, Food and Reunions”, on Saturday, September 26, 2009 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
Bring your family and join us on the Sunny Hills campus for:
- “Tastes” from local restaurants include: Beach Pit BBQ, Chomp, Cafe Hidalgo, Slidebar, Heroes, Phan 55, Koba Grill, Hashigo Sushi, El Matador Cantina, Top Class Pizza, Twin Dragon Chinese Food, Rutabegorz, EHF Fundraising, Lascari’s, and Cajun Swamp!
- A special “KidZone” sponsored by the agriculture department with carnival games and a petting zoo. Jamba Juice will be available in the “KidZone” along with kettle corn and a “candy store.”
- “Reunion Row,” a special place to reconnect with classmates from years past and relive high school memories.
- Live entertainment venues featuring music, comedy and dance from incredible Sunny Hills student and alumni entertainers.
- 50th birthday cake will be served with coffee provided by Starbucks.
Admission for the event is free.
I have received several emails from Friends inquiring about examples of sustainable design in Fullerton. Sunny Hills High School is a great example of sustainable design.
Concrete structure, steel framed windows both on the north and south sides of all the classroom buildings were built to last; a great cantilevered roof design provides ample shade while still allows natural light and ventilation to pass through thus not needing HVAC all the time.
The roofs have the perfect pitch and design to accept solar panels for future conversion. When I found out that SHHS opened 50 years ago today, it confirmed the theory that good design will assure that buildings will last for as long as the materials they were built out of will let them.
You may remember that I got to thinking about why the city staff would tell the RDRC that the $40,000,000 parking structure must have brick veneer; and that I asked one of the RDRC Board members that very same question, and the answer I got was that staff told the Committee that the City has to use brick veneer because it was a “State” requirement to meet the CEQA guidelines. (I also noted that the use of fake brick is in complete contrast to the sustainable design the General Plan Advisory Committee has spend the last 3 years discussing and recommending to the City Council).
CEQA? Yes CEQA he said, because there’s a provision in the CEQA guidelines that requires mitigation of any visual impacts. In other words, since the new parking structure was being built with structural concrete, and the surrounding downtown has many brick-looking buildings, using the brick veneer would cause no visual impact on the environment. I say “brick-looking” because so many of the buildings in downtown Fullerton are faced with fake brick veneers, facades that are not historic, and some of which, in fact, were stuck-on older buildings during the course of Redevelopment in the last 30 years. And many of these were subsidized by the taxpayers of Fullerton.
How do I know this? I did a building facade survey of downtown from the RR tracks to Chapman and from Malden to Pomona. I documented the principal “building skin” of each structure. The results didn’t surprise me, but they may surprise you; they should shock the Redevelopment and Planning Department “experts” who not only have been tolerating, but actually promoting this material over the years – seemingly in an effort to keep downtown “historical” looking. Boy, did they get it wrong.
Here are the results of the survey:
24 Brick veneer
2 Flagstone veneer
9 Real brick & clay block
3 Glazed & fluted brick
24 stucco & plaster
20 Concrete, concrete block & terra cotta
And here is a useful overhead image with the various exterior materials colored in on each of the building’s footprint. Notice how few real brick buildings there are; and of these only a couple are red brick – the crap of choice among Fullerton’s bureaucratic tastemakers. The buildings with substantial brick venerers are pink.
Using CEQA to bolster the poor design choices of the past is pretty bad. Let’s hope this post will help end the travesty of bad and cheap looking architecture based on erroneous assumptions, and that California’s environmental laws will never be used again by city staff to foist this garbage on us.
Pam Keller seems to think it’s a good idea to make the new 6.5 million dollar subsidized McDonald’s look ”more like the high school” than a “fast-food joint.” She appears to believe that a visual “upgrade” helps justify the huge expenditure of public money. We don’t think it’s an upgrade at all, but just another example of Redevelopment shoving crappy architecture down our throats. Strike two.
On the other hand, maybe Keller is hoping the architectural “blend” will keep people from noticing that the city spent 6.5 Million dollars on moving the McDonald’s 150 feet closer to the school!
Because of the health concerns caused from fast food, Sharon Quirk is said to be considering changing her vote. Maybe Pam Keller will too.
#15 by The Enabler at May 16th, 2009
We have it on good authority that when Hope University hightails it from Fullerton to points south, the Exaggerated Modern buildings on their erstwhile campus may be in danger. How come? Because the very entity that built them in the 1960s – CSUF - is said to be eager to reacquire the property. Based on their recent architectural efforts, a massively overbuilt campus, plus the need to house more students like sardines, the future isn’t too hopeful for the buildings on the Hope U. campus.
The complex of buildings that originally served CSUF as graduate student housing, bookstore, and cinema with their glass walls and soaring roofs have been recognized by many for their architectural value – but never by a governmental entity – and in government land planning thats all that really counts. They have not been recognized by the City, the County, or the State as an historical resource and at present have nothing standing between them and a possible wrecking ball except Fullerton Friends willing to work to preserve them.
If we set aside the irony of the CSUF buying back property they once owned, and focus on the aesthetic importance and the sound construction used and the opportunity for creative re-use, we can only conclude that these buildings are worth saving!
Please call State Assemblyman Mike Duvall (714/672-4734) immediately to let him know what you think; e-mail Fullerton City Council members (Council@ci.fullerton.ca.us) to let them know that this complex of buildings deserves to be an historic district. Don’t forget to call Chris Norby, County Supervisor at 714/834-3440 to ask for his support.
If you are a member of the heritage group be sure to tell your board that you want these gems of modern architecture preserved - unlike the buildings currently being demolished on Chapman Avenue to make way for the “Jefferson Commons” monstrosity.
WORKING TOGETHER WE CAN SAVE THIS RESOURCE FOR THE PEOPLE OF FULLERTON, ORANGE COUNTY, AND CALIFORNIA!
P.S. We have asked our Arts & Architecture Department to develop an educational post to define just what “Exaggerated Modern” is. We hope (no university) you will stay tuned.
UPDATE: We are republishing this wonderful post by Fred Olmstead originally posted on February 21, 2009. We do so in order to highlight the fact that the park – suffering from real blight – is in the Redevelopment project area, and stands as yet another testament to the failure of Redevelopment. Sharon Quirk, are you reading this?
- The Fullerton Shadow
Loyal Friends of Fullerton’s Future, gather ‘round the cool glow of your computer terminals and follow a sad saga of miserable municipal negligence.
Located in the center of Fullerton is a resource of inestimable value, overlooked by almost everybody in and outside of City Hall: Hillcrest Park. Included in an early vision of the city it followed upon the City Beautiful, and natural urban park elements of the Progressive movement; and coincided nicely with the new auto culture of the 1920s, positioned as it was, along the original Highway 1.
Developed fully during the Depression in a rustic mode, the park soon after began a long decline into municipal irrelevance, and if anything, seemed to be perceived by many as a liability rather than a great asset. This tragic trajectory is a shameful blot on Fullerton’s history and is akin to placing your eighty-five year old mother in a criminally negligent nursing home.
After Don Bankhead and Fullerton’s Finest chased out the acid-dropping hippies in the 1960s, the park became a haven for perverts; trees began to die and were not replaced; erosion claimed many of the north and west facing slopes and was not arrested; as the infrastructure crumbled it was replaced by City Engineer Hugh Berry with incongruous cinder block walls and concrete light poles.
In the mid-1990s Redevelopment Director Gary Chalupsky, in a philanthropic mood, decided that Redevelopment funds could be used to address Hillcrest Park issues – the first official over-the-shoulder glance toward the park in years.
And here, dear Friends, the story turns from a chronicle of benign neglect to one of outright incompetence and, one might plausibly argue, a form of bureaucratic malevolence.
In 1996 the usual scoping/charette pantomime was performed with an historic park landscape architect, specially imported from Riverside. An odd thing happened: every time the consultant prepared a list of priorities for the park, the Community Services Department’s wishes kept getting pushed to the top. The Director of Community Services was Susan Hunt, a woman long known for her mindless turf battles with her constituents – (including the Isaak Walton Cabin in Hillcrest). Hunt was determined to hijack the process and divert resources from where they were needed to facilities that she and her department could control and perhaps even profit from.
Hunt was successful. The consultant, knowing whom it was important to please, seemed only too happy to abet the fraud that was perpetrated. The city council (including current Jurassic members Bankhead and Jones) went along. Chris Norby was there, too. Now he’s in charge of the County’s parks.
A new playground replaced the old one in the Lemon parking area even though no one had complained about the existing one that parents seemed to like. More egregious still, a new facility (known as Hillcrest Terrace) was built behind the Veteran’s building that could be rented out for social functions. But the real needs of the park – slope stabilization, plant cataloguing and replacement, the removal of inappropriate elements – went unaddressed – and the problems have continued unabated to this day, ten years later, as interest in the park waned again.
Last fall the City once again roused itself from its somnolence and created an ad hoc committee to consider issues related to Hillcrest Park. The time is, perhaps, propitious. Susan Hunt has disappeared into an overdue and well-compensated retirement, current Director Joe Felz is much more amenable to citizen input. It’s time to reclaim this park.
Hillcrest is still in the Redevelopment Area and remains affected by indisputable blight. This should become a priority for Redevelopment Director Rob Zur Schmied.
While we wonder if the Hillcrest Park committee will actually display the necessary independence from staff manipulation, and that they possess the necessary technical abilities, we wish them well. And we encourage citizens to make sure that this time any assessment of Hillcrest will objectively address the needs of the park and report directly to the City Council. Recommendations should be included in the City’s Capital Budget.
Hillcrest Park can and must return to being the crown jewel of Fullerton’s parks.
Click to bigify images
The other day, while driving along Chapman, I was struck by the scrawny Bottle brush trees pruned to the point of embarrassment and disgrace. I’ve seen some of the worst examples of improper pruning of both trees and shrubs in Fullerton –both along boulevards and at private homes. Who are these morons with saws? I thought I’d share some of what I look forward to seeing when I go back.
Savannah is a cosmopolitan city with a mix of old and new. It’s an old city, one where history matters and has played a role in the shaping of it. One of the things that grabs the first time visitor are the trees. There are giant oaks draped with Spanish moss. The delicate but strong strands of moss takes over every thing from trees to camellias and azaleas. But the greenery seems to hold the entire city together giving it a level of comfort and sophistication.
There is a stately grandeur about these trees. Nowhere is this seen better than the oak alley planted along the road to Wormsloe Plantation. Wormsloe was built in 1740 by one of the original settlers, Noble Jones. What’s left of Savannah’s first fort are the “Tabby” ruins, a mixture of lime, sand, and oyster shell halves thrown in for good measure. While the ruins are interesting, it’s the alley that everyone remembers and associates with plantation landscapes.
One of my favorite finds was the discovery of two secret gardens. Secret meaning they’re private and I peeked through a fence. The two gardens shown here belong to townhouses along busy streets. They provide the owners respite in an area where funeral hearses are resurrected as tour buses, and the usual mix of tourists and business crowd the area.
Anyway, the grace of the trees and the way the moss takes over everything is part of what makes the city so beautiful. Further out, along the river, there is much scenery to take in as well. I find the natural landscape evocative of where I grew up. The bulrushes are beautiful as well. Here’s the dock over by a house we looked at to buy. This is the stuff of dreams as well.
Not Friends for Fullerton’s Future. We subscribe to the opinion that good architecture – innovative, attractive, engaging architecture, need cost no more than bad architecture – non-functional, boring, banal, tacky architecture. So there’s really no excuse for housing developed by non-profits to be substandard, especially when it relies on huge governement subsidies.
Here’s an example of a subsidized housing project on Chapman Avenue. A hodgepodge of “styles”It was built during the mid-90s and can only be described as, well, really bad. The building closest to the street is a stucco box with flush, cheapo windows, and fake shutters – which have been removed, or mercifully fell off. Well maybe we’re just imagining the shutters. The parking structure actually has little roofed stucco boxes stuck on to the front of it, no doubt to make it look “residential” from Chapman Avenue. We wonder what kind of an idiot would mistake a parking structure for a house; or who wouldn’t be offended by someone’s effort to fool him.
A more recent aesthetic travesty was perpetrated by Habitat for Humanity on Valencia Avenue in the barrio. The theme here seems to be fake Craftsman; the awkward angles and ridiculous fenestration make it look as if an untalented child drew the elevations. Oh boy! fake rock plinths for the porch posts.
Hard to believe, but the apartments the City is buying and demolishing in order to build this other stuff looks better – even boarded up with plywood!
Now, our purpose here is not to belittle people trying to do good, or even to make fun of untalented children. But rather to point out that neither of the these two examples needed to end up like they did – if in fact an intelligent design review process had decided that low income people shouldn’t have to live in cheap-looking, ugly housing.
Of course we have an ulterior motive for this post. First, the Redevelopment Agency is going to be spending ever-increasing amounts on subsidized housing in the coming years, with or without expansion. Regardless of one’s opinion about this sort of government activity we want to make sure that these projects achieve the highest design standards – not the lowest – as has been the case (see also the recent post on the Allen Hotel). Second, and more specifically, we are extremely concerned about the upcoming Richman project. The selected developer, the Olson Co., is not known for their aesthetic creativity, and will, if allowed, cough up another McSpanish McMess. Their architect is the same individual responsible for the Habitat for Humanity project.
It’s time for Fullerton’s Friends to insist on better, sustainable architecture when it’s subsidized by the taxpayers.
We’re all paying for it. Now and in the future.
Lost in the commotion of last fall’s election excitement was a short letter to the Fullerton Observer by Tom Dalton, Fullerton Heritage’s President-for-Life. It appeared in the early September issue. It seemed to be a very belated response to the letter I had written some time before, and that I just posted here on our blog. Well, I’m posting a copy of Mr. Dalton’s letter here as well as a response I sent to the Observer’s editor. Please note that the Observer never printed my letter rebutting Tom Dalton’s, but now for the very first time, Loyal Friends, you may enjoy it here!
First Mr. Dalton’s missive:
Fullerton College dedicated the latest in a series of new buildings on the Fullerton campus August 15, 2008. The Classroom Office Building joins the Library and the Student Center as another example of how new construction can complement and even improve on the overall historic and architectural character of the campus complex. Period design features, proper scale and proportions, and use of appropriate materials on these buildings reflect the style and character of the original campus. And let us not forget the wonderful results of the restoration work on the Wilshire Continuing Education complex. Fullerton College President Kathleen Hodge, former District Chancellor Jerome Hunter, and the District Board are all to be commended for their steadfast commitment to honor the past by foregoing faddish architecture that others often use to make their own statements. Fullerton College has made the strongest statement of all by preserving its heritage. Fullerton Heritage salutes you! Keep up the good work.
Tom Dalton, President Fullerton Heritage
Well, Tom has had his bootlicking say, and now I will share my thoughts on the subject:
I just read Tom Dalton’s recent tribute to the wisdom of the NOCCCD Trustees for their dismal architectural failures on the Fullerton College campus, as printed in your September edition. Tom’s letter must have pleased the trustee who asked him to write it, but it left me wondering why these folks choose to defend the indefensible – rather than develop a new policy of building modern architecture on our campus. Well, maybe they ought to be defensive! Tom tells us the pseudo-historical details, the materials, and the proportions of the new buildings are harmonious with the historical structures on campus. I guess he expects us to take his word for it. But the commonsense of anyone standing in the central quad will tell him that the new library is an overbearing, out-of-scale monstrosity.
The fake concrete form patterns impressed on hollow stucco walls, the awkward fenestration, and the ludicrous cupola only add insult to injury. It’s not easy to create buildings that are both tacky and unoriginal, but whoever designed this building achieved this dubious distinction. The image and caption on the cover of your early October issue is telling: Tiles Fall off the Dome of the New Library During Storm (what storm was that, by the way?). Further comment is unnecessary.
Why does Tom admire architecture that hides its steel structure within hollow walls made of metal studs, lath, and plaster? He says this sort of thing goes well with the existing buildings, and again he seems to think we’ll take his word for it. But why should we accept the idea that boring, dishonest, clunky buildings are anything but an insult to historical structures? Because Tom says so? The new building on Chapman Avenue with its false arches assaults passersby with a sort of stubborn muteness; it is a dull, blocky, inert monument to creative bankruptcy, without a single redeeming architectural quality.
Tom piously warns us against the evil of architectural fads, by which I think we can assume he means contemporary architecture that doesn’t ape the original Mediterranean themes of the WPA buildings on campus. And so, innovative modern architecture on campus of the sort pioneered in Southern California by masters such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolf Schindler and Richard Neutra and their followers would likely be dismissed as faddish by Dalton, just as their work was scorned by philistines of an earlier time who preferred period revivals such as Stockbroker Tudor and French Provincial as safe, tasteful bets for the local gentry.
But must the public, the students, and the faculty accept fake arches, Styrofoam cornices, and hidden structural members because they gratify Tom and his like minded friends on the Board of Trustees? We should recognize a higher responsibility than weakly regurgitating forms from the past and doing even that poorly. There is no premium paid for good, modern architecture. It costs no more than the uninspired junk the North Orange County Community College District Trustees are foisting on us. And in the long run good architecture will cost less. Someone at the top must make the commitment.
There really is a bigger issue that falls outside the penlight illumination cast by Tom Dalton’s personal aesthetic sensibility. Isn’t it the responsibility of an academic institution to promote creative excellence and shouldn’t that ideal be enshrined in the college’s built environment? Timid and trite architectural expression seems contrary to the very mission of an academic institution. On top of that, it’s a waste of money.
In a few years, as the dreary McSpanish dinosaurs of my Alma Mater disintegrate into a well-deserved decrepitude, Trustees will no doubt float yet another bond to pay for their replacement. Then, hopefully, some future generation will enjoy new creative and dynamic architecture on campus.
Founder, Fullerton Heritage
A couple of years ago I sent the following letter to the Fullerton Observer. It caused a bit of a stir among the knee-jerk educrat supporters. I hope you Friends enjoy it, too:
Dear Editor: There is an old adage that bad architecture costs just as much as good. This lesson seems to be lost on the educators over at the NCCCD. First they erect the god-awful monstrosity of the library with its overbearing size and fake historical details, right down to the false concrete formwork impressions on lath and plaster walls!
And now the Student Commons: another McSpanish dinosaur looming over innocent passersby on Chapman Avenue. With its fake “thick” walls, fake concrete columns, fake cornices, and oafish arches (see attached images) this edifice represents all that’s bad in trying to ape the design of the poured-in-place concrete structures on campus.
Had the college pursued a course of promoting original modern design they may well have succeeded in erecting buildings that would be recognized 70 years from now as historic. – buildings that were graceful, elegant, efficient, and that honestly expressed structure in form. My guess is that the WPA buildings on campus will end up outlasting these new ones.
The promotion of fake old architecture by our Board, on the other hand, is the result of confused thinking. The idea of emulating existing building’s themes so that the new ones “fit in” is meant to display aesthetic sensitivity with a nod to the ideas of tradition and preservation – concepts that they badly misunderstand. Fake old architecture honors nothing, least of all the past. The feeble attempts to copy historical detailing that present-day workers can’t do, or that the College won’t pay for, pays homage to nothing. Placing a fake old building next to an historic building will serve to make the original look better, but how much more of an honor would it be to hire a creative designer and let him or her pay tribute to the existing built environment through the exercise of creativity and talent! Isn’t that the lesson our public schools should be teaching their students?